Tropical Storm Nicole seen by satellite on Wednesday morning. Image: CIRA/RAMMB.
Tropical Storm Nicole is barreling through the northwestern Bahamas with strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge flooding Wednesday morning. It is forecast to become a hurricane before it hits Florida overnight.
Threat level: The storm will bring damaging storm surge flooding along Florida’s east coast, north to Georgia and South Carolina, as well as heavy rain and damaging winds.
Most recent: As of 7am, the storm was moving about 60 miles east-northeast of Great Abaco Island, or 240 miles east of West Palm Beach. It was moving west-southwest at 13 mph, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph, just shy of hurricane strength.
- Dry air has been drawn into the system, choking off some of the thunderstorms needed for more intensity, the National Hurricane Center said in an online forecast discussion.
- If Nicole hits Florida as a hurricane, it would be the latest of the season that such a storm has hit the state.
- Tropical storm force winds have already spread across parts of Florida’s east coast.
- The storm’s extraordinary impact, with tropical storm force winds extending 460 miles from the center, ensures that Florida’s east and west coasts will see strong winds from this storm.
- Hurricane, tropical storm and storm surge warnings and watches are in effect from southeast Florida to South Carolina.
Zoom in: The worst storm surge will be between North Palm Beach, Florida and Altamaha Sound, Georgia, including the St. Louis River. Johns. Then, surge heights over dry ground will typically range from 3 to 5 feet, NHC forecasts.
- Mandatory and voluntary evacuations are underway along Florida’s east coast in preparation for the storm surge.
- Heavy rain is also a threat from this storm, with a maximum of 8 inches predicted in parts of Florida.
- Parts of the state where water recently fell after Hurricane Ian, such as along the St. John’s River, will likely see renewed flooding from this storm.
- Heavy rain will spread north as the storm turns up the east coast, with up to six inches of rain possible in parts of the Appalachians and Blue Ridge Mountains, with soaking rain in the Washington to Boston corridor by this weekend.
Between the lines: NASA is leaving its Artemis I rocket on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral to ride out the storm, but its Nov. 14 launch attempt has been pushed back to Nov. 16.
- The giant rocket was designed to withstand winds of up to 85 mph on the pad, NASA said in a statement. “Current forecasts predict that the biggest risks at the pad are high winds that are not expected to exceed the SLS design,” the agency said.
- Orlando International Airport close plans at 4pm ET on Wednesday.
- NHC forecasters are warning against focusing on Nicole’s exact track, saying the storm will bring “Hazards that extend well north of the center, outside the forecast cone. These hazards are likely to affect much of the Florida peninsula and parts of south-east Wales. States.”